Friday, March 11, 2011

Truth in Advertising

As I walked up Ice House Street this evening, I saw an advert for a hotel in Macau, and like a stale madeleine, it flung me back to a memory I could easily have forgotten.
Hotel Advertisement

It's a good looking hotel from the advert, gleaming in a brilliant light, looking down over a verdant landscape, fountains and everything just lovely. Having stayed there, I know that it's on the main road, facing a roundabout, and looks like the outside hasn't been cleaned for a good few years. Fountains and landscaped gardens, there are none.

There are iron-hard beds. When we arrived, my girlfriend leaped onto the bed and promptly bounced off. When I followed her lead, I thought I'd cracked a rib - the mattress felt like it was stuffed with concrete and defeated any attempt to get comfortable. I'd have slept on the floor instead, but that was an unpleasant brown, suggesting all sorts of stains and misery.

So we had two single beds, having requested a double. Perhaps mathematically two singles are the same as a double. And two men with one leg each can run as fast as a bloke with two.

Downstairs, there was the ever-present stench of cigarettes. For though Macau is full of casinos, every single hotel has a casino of its own, even if it's slap bang next to the Venetian or the Lisboa. Maybe it's in case you're worried there would be a few gambling-free minutes between getting out of bed and losing your shirt to Stanley Ho. But this displays a lack of ambition. If it were up to me, there would be a one-armed bandit in every bedroom. That's 'a comprehensive gaming experience'.

The last two paragraphs have both referred to people with a paucity of limbs. I will avoid this any more, as otherwise I won't have a leg to stand on.

So the room smelt, and the hotel smelt, and the beds precluded sleep. But at least the staff were ... well, the staff were human, at least. Not much else you can say for them. I suppose the doorman had an admirably egalitarian attitude to life. If you asked him to call you a taxi, he'd flag one down, and then usher some random passers-by into it. Hey, somebody would be having a ride somewhere.

My girlfriend was less impressed. Taxis in Macau are as rare as hen's teeth in Hong Kong during a bird flu scare, so she wasn't going to allow a party of Guangzhou daytrippers to take our cab. A short burst of her thousand-watt stare and we were on our way to the old town.

We met friends, took another taxi, which got lost and had to consult a map. The internal light was not working so he had to get out and hold the map next to his dim headlamps to read it - yes, I was feeling safe and secure at this point. We ate a meal of delicious fish (everyone else) and pasta with red sauce (me).

No, I'm not making some crass reference to tomato ketchup, as if I'm simpleminded enough to only describe things by their predominant colour. But this sauce was red. That was its only quality. It had no flavour, no smell, no nutritional content. It was just red. Boo.

After that, we hustled over to the Macau Tower to watch the Philippine entry to the International Firework Competition, which was jolly good, and then walked for an hour in search of taxis. Pretty standard Saturday night in Macau, I guess.

All that from a single advertisement hoarding. Is that a sign I've lived here too long?



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